Sankt Annas archipelago is by many to be considered the most beautiful archipelago on the east coast of Sweden. There is hundreds of small islands scattered around in the area. This makes it a bit harder for boats to navigate but instead ideal for kayaking.
Most of the islands are uninhabited which makes it easy to pick a suitable island to make camp. But large parts of the archipelago is under different restrictions and many islands are off limit for a large part of the kayaking season. Sankt Anna is under investigation to become a national park to preserve its unique landscape and wildlife.
This trip started in Tyrislöt where one can rent kayaks. There is no larger crossings one have to make and no major boat traffic that one have to take into consideration. So it is an easy place to be kayaking in. This trip was made the 15th of August which is a great time to be kayaking. All bird restrictions have been revoked so more or less all islands can be visited and the water is at its warmest. The days are still long but it still gets dark enough so you get nice starry skies. All in all, a perfect time for kayaking regardless of the area.
This trip was more about relaxation than exploration. So after a few hours we made camp at an island we found suitable. Spent the rest of the evening just enjoying being out in such beautiful nature. The next morning we woke up to perfect conditions. The sea was calm and flat and the sun was shining. It would have been great to ad at least one extra days but this was just a one nighter so we had to paddle back towards Tyrislöt. The wind was picking up a bit and coming against us but still without being any hassle. Sankt Anna is a great kayaking destination regardless if you are a beginner or experienced kayaker.
Some adventures are planned for a long time while others happens just because an opportunity arise. This is one of those unplanned trips that happen just because you got some unexpected time over and access to a canoe in Rimforsa.
So we knew that we would start in Rimforsa but wasn’t sure where we would end. We found info that there is a canoe trail that passes Rimforsa but in the opposite direction that we were planing. Couldn’t find any good info about how strong the current is in the parts that consist of rivers but from the look of it from google map it looked like it should be ok. If not then we just had to change the plan., no problems.
We got a late start the first day and just paddled on to cover as much distance as possible the first day. In late September the sun sets around 19.00 and it is dark around 30 minutes later so you really notice the shorter days now compared to the summer. Got ourself a nice camp on a small island in the rather big lake of Åsunden where we spent most of this trip on.
When we woke up the next morning we woke up to more or less summer weather. The sun was warming and, at the beginning, almost no wind. Conditions couldn’t become much better especially at this time of year when the autumn really starts to take its grip over Scandinavia. When we started paddling the wind started to pick up but we had the wind in our back so it just made our day even easier. We realized that the lake Åsunden was larger than we had anticipated and it took us quite some time before reaching the small city of Horn were we had to do our first lift. On the other hand we didn’t stress and had some nice breaks and even a swim.
At Horn there was a local store so one could fill up supplies and water here if needed. With a canoe wagon the lift would be extremely easy since it was a gravel road but we had to carry the canoe. From here the paddling is mainly on the river of Stångån and a few connecting lakes. I feel that paddling on rivers have a tendency to be more rewarding than the big lakes since there is more to rest your eyes on and you get the feeling that you are moving forward faster. And it is more exiting since you don’t know what is going to be around the next corner.
It was harder to find a campsite than expected and suddenly we found our self still in the canoe after sunset and nowhere to camp. We picked up the pace and just when we needed it at most we wound an island that worked. When the tent was up it was almost pitch black so it was really in the last minute.
In the morning we woke up to another beautiful day with some light fog over the water. This was our last day and we needed to get an early pick up since normal life was calling so we got ourself an early start and started paddling. The weather shifted to the worse just to shift back again to become really nice.
We didn’t made it all the way to Vimmerby which was sort of the plan but it wouldn’t been any problem if we have had the full day paddling. We ere very happy with this trip were everything had worked in our favor. It shows that having a piece of the Scandinavian wilderness doesn’t need to be hard or well planned. Sometimes all you need is some time over and a canoe.
The largest city in Scandinavia may not be associated with wilderness experience but Stockholm does have a lot to offer when it comes to nature experience. As an example, the Stockholm archipelago consists of around 24000 islands. This makes the Stockholm archipelago a paradise for kayaking.
Too much to read? Watch the video instead.
I have spent a lot of time in the archipelago. We have a summer house there so more or less every summer for 35 years. But i have never tried a kayak before and have explored just a fraction of the archipelago. Finally i took the time to go on a 4 day kayaking tour and see what more the archipelago has to offer. With me on the trip is my friend Elias. He is the type who typically avoid sleeping in tent but he has former kayaking experience. So on the trip there is two beginners. One beginner on the kayak and one beginner camper.
We started this trip on Dalarö were we hired our kayaks. Dalarö is a good starting point since it is easy to access by car but still gets you out in the outer archipelago fast. After a quick demonstration how things work its just to hop in and start the trip. As a beginner i was surprised how quickly i felt comfortable in the kayak. It felt stable and very comfortable.
Our plan was to get as far out in the archipelago as we could the first day. During the whole trip we were lucky with the weather and especially the wind. We were doing some larger crossings or at least larger in the context that it was my first day in a kayak. If it would have been windy some of this crossings could have given us problems.
This trip was made in late July and this means that most swedes are on holiday and the archipelago is a popular holiday destination. Even though there are lots of boats out there it’s no problems finding your own little island to set up camp on. This is extra easy when using the kayak since there is so many small coves and likes that normal boats can’t go in while the kayak just gently passes through.
First night we ended up at an island called Finnskär, or perhaps Byttan, depending which map one uses. We were quite tired and didn’t stay up all to late. If one would head straight east, towards the open sea, you would reach one of Stockholm archipelagos largest seal colony. At this time of year it is forbidden to approach this colony but after 15th of August one can paddle out and greet the seals. They are quite curious and come up next to the canoes.
The morning after we woke up to a new day with perfect weather condition. Sunny and almost no wind at all, but this would become even better. We aimed towards Bullerö which became our final destination this day. This also meant we had the wind in our back the entire day which made the paddling very easy. We didn’t find any good information were we could fill up our water but aimed for Långvikskär which would be a good candidate. We did find a well we could use but later realized that we could have waited until we reached Bullerö.
Bullerö is part of a nature reserve, which a large part of the archipelago is. There is some facilities like a cabin, water and outhouses. And there was a sauna which is open for everyone to use. This made us set up camp here, even if it violated the original plan to avoid other people. There is a designated area for setting up tents and you are encourage to stay there. Didn’t quite understand the rules but think you still were allowed to put up the tent anywhere you want on the island under the freedom to roam. The evening was spent in the sauna and swimming in the ocean and later around the campfire with some of the other campers that we met.
The next day we once again woke up to perfect weather. This was our last whole day and it was time to start heading back towards mainland. This became one of the nicest paddling days where we had both large crossings in perfect conditions and parts with lots of small islands. We ended up on a small island just next to Mörtö Bunsö. We put camp up a bit in the woods but spent the night out on the rocks watching the sunset.
Next day started as previous days. Nice weather, breakfast, coffe and a swim. Only 10 km between the end of our kayak adventure and normal life back on mainland. I was surprised how much i have enjoyed kayaking. I thought that it might be a bit boring at times but i enjoyed every second of it.
Some lessons learned until next kayak adventure. First is the timing. Even though July is our warmest month i think that this trip may be best suited for late August. At least if you want to be on your own. There are many boats out in the archipelago but as soon as school and work start, the archipelago drains from people. Also, the nights are once again dark which can offer some amazing night skies.
Be aware of the sun and wear sunscreen otherwise it can be a painful trip. Try to organize your gear in small water tight and transparent bags which makes packing the kayak much easier. Last, you are best out with a self supporting tent since there is a big chance you will camp straight in the rocks. And because of that, a comfortable sleeping mattress is also recommended.